There are efforts being made to popularise the game of Cricket in Nigeria. One of such efforts is the creation of the Edo State Cricket League by the Edo state Cricket Association. The league is open to teams in the state including tertiary institutions. There are 8 teams participating in the 2020/2021 season; University of Benin (Uniben) Cricket club, Integrity Force Cricket Club, U-17 Cricket Club, Ambrose Alli University (AAU) Cricket Club and Crusaders Cricket Club Edo, Dolphins Cricket Club, No-limit Cricket Club and Invictus Cricket Club.
The season is slated to run from the 8th of January, 2021 till the 10th of April, 2021. It started with a bang on the 9th of January as the Uniben cricket club set a record on the newly constructed Edo state cricket turf wicket, by scoring the highest runs – (183) in the league against Ambrose Alli University (AAU) Cricket Club.
The University of Benin (Uniben) won the toss and batted first, scoring 183 for the loss of 3 wickets in 20 overs. Elijah Olaleye, Peter Aho and Miracle Akhigbe from the University of Benin scored 70, 34 and 23 runs respectively.
In the second innings team Uniben bowled team AAU for 86 Runs all out in 15.4 overs. Peter Aho, Miracle Akhigbe and Elijah Olaleye took 4, 3 and 2 wickets respectively. Team UNIBEN Won by 97 Runs and Peter Aho (UNIBEN), Won the Man of the Match Award.
Uniben’s team captain Eghosa Aghedo Destiny, believes the league would provide opportunities to young cricketers to be called into the state team and necessitate the need for coach training in cricket. He said “I think the creation of the league is to give a lot of individuals the chance to show their cricketing ability. From the league, players get invited for trials into the state team for national competitions. A few individuals might take it upon themselves to coach younger players who they see to have better understanding of the game from the current breed of young players in the league.”
“The Edo state Cricket league over the last five years has experienced massive growth, from playing the 2016/2017 season on a concrete ground with 4 teams to playing the 2020/2021 season on a Turf wicket with 8 teams.
“I have been the captain of the Uniben cricket team since early 2017 when the last NUGA games were held and up until this tournament, we have not participated in any competition, and the boys are very happy to be playing competitive cricket again. We still have four more games to play in the next four weekend and we are looking forward to finishing in the Top 4 to play in the Super 4 series.”
Dime Tamaradenyefa, Uniben’s Batsman and Bowler applauded the Edo State Cricket Association for the creation of the league. “This is a laudable invention by the Edo State Cricket Association He said; the league has boosted the morale of cricket players within the state while also serving as an avenue for viable competition which has engendered a continuous rise in interest of youngsters and old timers playing the game. The competitiveness of the league has encouraged team spirit as well as the improvement of individual and collective skill of Edo state cricketers.
“It is obvious that the Edo state Cricket League will continue to improve the participation of universities in the cricket game Tamaradenyefa continued, it is obvious because we do not have to search far to see how the league is already creating a healthy atmosphere for the growth of cricket in universities. With the creation of the University of Benin Cricket Club and the Ambrose Alli University Cricket Club and their subsequent participation in the current League season, both universities have suddenly been given an opportunity to play more Cricket games than their counterparts in other states. This has bustled the coaches of both clubs into tightening the reins on training their respective teams and the management has no choice but to acknowledge the fact that cricket is among its list of sports. I’ll therefore like to say kudos to the organizers and sponsors of the Edo state cricket league! Truly, they are doing a good job.”
Edo state’s cricketers are renowned for their impact in national and international Cricket with the state having produced players and coaches for the national cricket teams at different points in time.